Easier to do Sun-only deals
Sun Microsystems' solution provider partners gave the vendor a thumbs-up for new hardware and storage products and related services unveiled Wednesday.
However, they caution that gaining a bigger share of the storage market is not a sure thing for Sun.
Sun's move to resell storage arrays from Hitachi Data Systems last year was a big help to Sun and solution providers, but it was almost too late, said John Cugliari, vice president of sales at Piedmont Technology Group, a Charlotte, N.C.-based partner of both Sun and EMC.
"Most of Sun's enterprise-class servers are still attached to non-Sun storage," Cugliari said. "It was mainly EMC getting the business, but not Hitachi, [that has helped Sun eat into the market. If Sun would have had the Hitachi deal in place a year ago, we would have recommended an all-Sun solution for several large enterprise customers."
With the help of the Hitachi relationship and the new products, Sun now has the chance to increase its storage market share, said Cugliari. "Where Sun has a strong market presence, and where leases and contracts are coming up, there are great opportunities," he said. "Some of our clients take the '1-800-GETYOURASSUPHERE' approach, looking to make one call for all their infrastructure needs."
However, Cugliari warned it is too early to count EMC out of the picture. "Never underestimate that organization," he said. "But once a company starts a gross margin slide like EMC, unless something radical comes along like the Internet bubble, it's hard to recover. . . . I don't see EMC taking new big clients, but I see them continuing to milk existing customers."
Jamie Holzkamp, director of Sun systems and services at Forsythe Solutions Group, a Skokie, Ill.-based solution provider, said the new products and services from Sun help address clients' needs for improved storage management.
"Sun is actively identifying areas it can work in this market space. . . . [The company is aggressively going out there and pricing these things to expand its footprint," he said.
Holzkamp said Forsythe expects to be one of Sun's initial iForce Storage Elite partners, adding that the program, with 3 percent rebate on Sun sales, is a lucrative one.
"Since we already have a dedicated storage operation at Forsythe, it's easy for us to get in," he said.
Being able to offer Sun services is extremely important to Acclaim Technology, said Mike Hjerpe, vice president of strategic alliances and marketing at the San Jose, Calif.-based solution provider.
"In a world of diminishing margins on hardware, the way to remain a viable business is services. . . . We had training from Hitachi on its services before Sun got the product line, but it's good to learn all the services available from Sun," he said.